The signing of Talles Magno is a signature moment for New York City FC, a massive move set against the backdrop of the absurdity of a current Brazilian youth international signing in MLS. That the richest soccer country in the world sends one of its young stars to a still growing league is a poignant turn in the development of MLS into a destination league.
And with New York City FC, it points to a cultural shift from a club that, six years ago, was built on the shoulders of aging (and fading) starts. Now NYCFC is fully committed to this concept of developing their own stars for the future and not relying on faded glory as their club’s foundation.
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Magno, signed this week, is the type of young Brazilian who has a resume that presume the attacker would leave his homeland for a Champions League caliber club in Portugal, Spain, France or Italy. The 18-year old, most recently with Vasco da Gama, has six appearances (with three goals) for Brazil’s U17 national team. He was wanted by tops clubs in Europe.
And he chose MLS as the next move for his development. And a club not even in the CONCACAF Champions League no less.
“I’m very happy to be joining New York City FC and I am committed, dedicated and ready to work. This is a big Club near the top of the table and that convinced me to come here. We are going to work together to accomplish big things,” Magno said following his signing.
“I want to show my talent to the Club and this league. It’s a league that is very well spoken of in Brazil. I want to give my best to the Club, to score many goals, give many assists to help my teammates and to be champion of the league. I ask the supporters to trust in me and trust what I can give NYCFC. I will give my best effort and fight for the team.”
The move for Magno is also significant from a rivalry perspective as New York City FC sends a clear shot across the Hudson River at the New York Red Bulls. The serious pursuit of such a player let alone to successfully land a rising, young Brazilian talent destined for a move to a big European club is a model move for MLS. It is a true gamechanger.
And with the Red Bulls struggling – or perhaps apathetic – in their pursuit of big name talent – the stones shone by NYCFC is impressive. This might be the sharpest international talent still in his teens brought into MLS. And from where New York City FC was just a couple years ago, it is a stark contrast in terms of their vision or the club.
With the signing of Talles Magno, New York City FC has changed the dynamic of the soccer landscape not just in the city but throughout MLS. This is the type of signing other clubs throughout MLS will now try to emulate.
When they came into MLS in 2015, NYCFC focused the spine of their roster with an effective David Villa, recently retired from the international game but still very effective and at the tail end of his prime. But their other signings, such as Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo, reeked of desperation and pure pandering for crowds.
Both Lampard and Pirlo retired after their time in MLS, underscoring their ambition (or lack thereof) and impact for New York City FC. Now for the club, a couple of years removed from such faded giants playing at Yankee Stadium to now be so ambitious in pursuing young talent is nothing short of a transformation.
Magno, however, has a trajectory on the upswing.
“He is a dynamic attacker who is quick, direct and capable of playing as a winger or forward. Talles is someone we believe will excite our fans, but as with any new player, particularly someone his age, we will be patient as he adapts and settles into his new environment on and off the pitch. We have an excellent staff that will support him through this process every step of the way which will give him the best opportunity to showcase his talent,” sporting director David Lee said of the signing.
“We take pride in developing young players to help them reach their fullest potential and Major League Soccer has proven to be a prime location for them to continue their development as professionals. We know that Talles is ready to push forward toward our ultimate goals of winning trophies.”
A goal that doesn’t seem quite as laughable as it did just a couple of seasons ago.